A gunman opened fire at a crowded mall outside Dallas on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring at least seven before a police officer killed him, the authorities said, turning a busy afternoon of shopping into a chaotic and tragic scene.
At a news conference Saturday night, Brian E. Harvey, the chief of police in Allen, Texas, did not immediately identify a gunman but said the person acted alone. Chief Harvey said a police officer, who was on an unrelated assignment at the mall at the time of the shooting, heard gunfire, rushed toward it and killed the gunman.
A spokesman for Medical City Healthcare, which was treating several victims at three trauma facilities, said the ages of the injured ranged from 5 to 61.
The gunfire erupted around 3:30 p.m. at the Allen Premium Outlets as throngs of shoppers filled the outdoor mall, which is about 25 miles north of Dallas and has more than 120 stores. Videos circulating on social media show people dashing for shelter or running through a parking lot as loud popping noises can be heard in the background.
Seven people, including the gunman, were pronounced dead at the mall. Officials could account for at least nine people who were transported to hospitals, but more victims may have been taken in private vehicles, the Allen fire chief, Jonathan Boyd, said. Two of those died later. Three were in critical condition and four in stable condition.
It was the latest attack in a deadly spate of large-scale shootings in the past week alone.
Last weekend, a gunman killed five people in Cleveland, Texas, after he was asked by neighbors to stop shooting in his yard, ending with a multiday manhunt.
On Monday, a registered sex offender fatally shot six people, including his wife and three of her children, near Tulsa, Okla., before turning the gun on himself.
On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at a medical office building in Atlanta, killing one and injuring four others. That, too, led to a manhunt before the suspect was caught.
In Allen, Texas, witnesses described a familiar scene of pandemonium after the gunfire erupted around 3:30 p.m. local time.
Geoffrey Keaton was having lunch with his 16-year-old daughter at Fatburger in the outlet mall when they heard gunshots.
“I immediately knew,” Mr. Keaton said. “I got my baby girl under the counter to shield her, and then they got louder, like he was right there.”
Mr. Keaton said the restaurant’s manager allowed customers to hide in the back, where they were able to exit through a rear door and run to their cars.
“You could see bodies of people he had shot on the sidewalk,” Mr. Keaton said.
A livestream from a local Fox television affiliate showed scores of shoppers being evacuated in an orderly fashion from shops like H&M, Michael Kors, American Eagle and Kay Jewelers.
Kaleo Palakiko, 36, was with his parents shopping for an upcoming vacation in the Tory Burch store when they saw people running outside.
“It was just kind of chaotic for a second. Then when someone said, ‘shooter,’ we all ran to the back of the store,” Mr. Palakiko said. “As Americans, we’re used to this, because everyone knew exactly what to do.”
Mr. Palakiko and his parents hid in a storeroom for about 45 minutes before they were released by police and walked out with their hands in the air. Mr. Palakiko said they walked by stores with shattered window panes.
Brayson Jones, 17, had arrived early for his shift at the Champs Sports outlet store and was sitting in his car when he heard “probably 20-plus shots” and saw people running out of stores, he said.
Mr. Jones said a stranger ran toward his car and motioned to let him inside, and then the two drove away.
“As soon as I heard the shots and people yelling, I didn’t wait to see what was going on, I backed out and got out of there,” he said.
Four hours after the shooting, the police were starting to allow some people to retrieve their cars that were left behind at the outlet. Others would have to wait until tomorrow.
There were also concerns about severe thunderstorms in the area. The Red Cross was assisting those who had no way of getting back home. Others were slowly reuniting with loved ones who drove up to a gas station nearby, cramming strollers and shopping bags into cars and embracing before driving off.
Representative Keith Self, who represents Allen, Texas, said on CNN that critics who are calling for more than “thoughts and prayers” after Saturday’s shooting “don’t believe in almighty God, who is absolutely in control of our lives” and instead said the country’s lack of “mental health institutions” is to blame.
“Really I would like to stay away from the politics today because I want to focus on the victims, today we should be focused on the families,” he said. “Prayers are important and they are important in the families that are devastated right now.”
In a statement, Kris Brown, the president of the gun violence prevention organization Brady, noted the long list of shootings in a short week.
“A house, a doctors’ office, and now a mall,” he said. “These horrific tragedies are occurring with increasing regularity and it’s clear there’s no place in this country where Americans are safe from gun violence. But this will continue to be our reality unless and until the U.S. changes its relationship with guns and our lawmakers finally answer to the American people, not the gun lobby.”